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Reinventions, new locations and a ‘secret’ from long ago: The restaurant scene in 2018


–illustration by Jordan Sellergren. Photo of Jeff Goldblum courtesy of The Same Photo of Jeff Goldblum Every Day Facebook page.

Transformation was a major theme on the local restaurant scene in 2018. Early in the year, the owners of downtown fixture Atlas announced they were remaking the restaurant into the Saint Burch Tavern (named after Burch, the bear who served as the University of Iowa’s mascot at the beginning of the 20th century), and as the year drew to a close, the owner of longtime favorite Devotay announced it would shut its doors on Dec. 31, and reopen as a new restaurant in early 2019.

Between those two announcements, Forbidden Planet became the Dandy Lion and Takanami morphed into a new incarnation of El Patrón. The Iowa City location of the state’s own pizza restaurant chain, Pizza Ranch, moved to a larger location, featuring 1,600 square feet of arcade games. Two public spaces, the Coralville Public Library and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, replaced their longtime food vendors with other local favorites (New Pi Co-op Café and Bread Garden Market, respectively).

There were also notable revivals. The new Goosetown Café brought the folks who used to run Motley Cow Café together in a new venture, and The Red Pepper and The Wedge reintroduced the breakfast The Wedge used to serve when it was downtown.

Along with covering various closings (Zombie Burger), openings (Wild Culture Kombucha) and expansions (Casa Azul), Little Village also took a look back at a long-gone, semi-legendary part of the Iowa City food scene, when someone wrote to Your Village and asked, what was Secret Pizza?

Atlas restaurant in April 2017. — Frankie Schneckloth/Little Village

Jan. 2: Crab rangoon pizza is coming to Cedar Rapids

Jan. 10: Forbidden Planet will close next week and reopen with a new concept and name

Jan. 19: Zombie Burger in Iowa City is closing

Jan. 25: New Pi Co-op Café coming to the Coralville Public Library

Feb. 21: Atlas Restaurant to rebrand as Saint Burch Tavern next month

The Dandy Lion will open this weekend for a preview event. — Frankie Schneckloth/Little Village

April 4: New Northside restaurant Goosetown Breakfast & Bar gets the gang back together again

May 3: Your Village: What was Secret Pizza?

May 14: Casa Azul opens new location in downtown Iowa City

June 1: The Dandy Lion hosts soft opening this weekend

July 10: Iowa City’s Pizza Ranch will move to the Gateway One Plaza (Updated)

Devotay — Adam Burke/Little Village

Aug. 3: Takanami reopens as a reinvented El Patrón, shortly after the original El Patrón shuts its doors

Aug. 16: Wild Culture Kombucha is opening a taproom in Iowa City’s north side

Aug. 29: Bread Garden Market is taking over the UIHC coffee kiosks

Oct. 5: Groundswell Cafe brings a pay-it-forward ethic and fresh, organic food to Cedar Rapids

Nov. 27: Devotay is closing


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